Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, TTT is on a rewind, meaning we can choose any past topic that takes our fancy!

I haven't been taking part in Top Ten Tuesday for very long, relatively speaking, so going back through all the old topics, I saw quite a few that I thought I'd enjoy doing. In the end, however, I chose to relive a chunk of my childhood and go with the relatively simple: Top Ten Childhood Favourites. If nothing else, it gives me an opportunity to google some tragic book covers from the late 80s/early 90s. (And, let's face it, the early 80s, because my local library growing up was hardly ahead of the times, or even anywhere near them.)

These are all books that I was reading, roughly, as a pre-teen and young teenager. I read a lot of series whilst growing up, so here are just a few choice samples:

1. The Babysitters' Club (series) by Ann. M. Martin

Kristy and Shannon swoon over the impeccable rhyming of "blue" with "you".
Oh, the BSC. How I adored these books as a kid. Fifteen chapters of babysitting adventures and mild teenage issues, all wrapped up nearly by the end of the book. Not forgetting, of course, the requisite introductory chapter, where we learned, over and over and over, that Stacey had a blond perm and was from New York, Kristy liked sports and wore a visor, Claudia liked junk food and Nancy Drew, and no one cared that Jessi was black. So much so that they kind of forgot to add in anything in the way of personality for poor Ms. Ramsey.

My first BSC book, and the one I remember the most, was Kristy's Mystery Admirer, as shown above.

2. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

A book that baffled me for years, given all that talk of belts instead of sanitary towels, but one that I loved anyway. I used to borrow the audiobook from the library, and listen to it on my Boots cassette player.

3. Malory Towers (series) by Enid Blyton

I was a massive Enid Blyton fan - everything from The Famous Five to The Secret Seven and the Five Find-Outers, to St. Clares and the Faraway Tree. But Malory Towers, with its tempestuous protagonist Darrell and a cast of broadly sketched but compelling characters, both pupils and teachers, made me desperate for midnight feasts and lacrosse, whatever that might have been. (My brother and I tried, by chucking a tennis ball between two fishing nets, but it's not quite the same.)

4. Sweet Dreams series (various authors)

If only she knew that glasses were for NERDS.
80s throwback time. My library had a potted selection of these books, all of which I borrowed at one time or another. I can only remember two stories now: one about a girl who went to live with her grandmother for the summer, by the beach, and spent all her time diving for sand dollars (I had no idea what these were), and one about a girl assigned to a science project with a (gasp) "bad boy". She liked meteorology, he liked being popular, except he fell in love with her and proved it by taking off her glasses and remarking on how beautiful she was. ("Guys don't make passes...", and all that. Doh.)

5. No. 1 (unknown author, part of the Point series)

Okay, so I remember this book vividly: it was huge, for a YA novel, and bright purple on the front. It concerned a gypsy boy called Terry, who wrote songs and was bullied at school, the bullies themselves, who (I think) end up forming a boy band, and the fight to be number one in the music industry and in the charts. I don't remember who wrote it, but it was a standalone in the "Point" series (who also did Point Horror and Point Romance). If anyone does remember, please enlighten me!

6. Making Out (series) by Katherine Applegate

Also contained a doctor's lecture to Nina and her blind boyfriend on how to use a condom. Fact.
I think they renamed this series a few years ago, but when I was reading it, it was the VERY SCANDALOUS "Making Out", so scandalous it was difficult to ask for them as birthday presents. A group of teens live on a tiny island off the coast of Maine, all stealing each others' boyfriends and girlfriends and scrawling out journal entries while looking cool in a massive jumper (necessary when living on aforementioned tiny island). I wanted to live on an island, and I wanted to be like wise-cracking Nina, who smoked (except she didn't) and always said funny things in threes.

7. Sweet Valley High (series) by Francine Pascal

The scandal of Suzanne, who tried to seduce Robert Redford. I mean, Mr. Collins.
I started by reading the Sweet Valley Twins books, the only one I owned being one where (12 year old) Jessica dates one of her brother's friends by pretending to be older, and ends up on a double date with, erm, her brother. That old chestnut. I then graduated onto SVH, where I spent many a happy hour reading about Jessica's latest hare-brained scheme, and Elizabeth's plan to get her sister out of trouble. Memorable favourites include: The New Jessica and Too Good To Be True from the regular series, the Secret Diaries they published from each twin's point of view, and some trilogy late in the series, where the twins go off to be counsellors at a summer camp. (If you too are an SVH survivor, I highly recommend Shannon's Sweet Valley High blog, as well as the Dairi Burger, which is on hiatus but has an impressive archive.)

8. Anastasia Krupnik (series) by Lois Lowry

The literary character I most resemble.
I almost feel like I would still enjoy this series now, which is more than I can say for some of the above tragedies. ;) Anastasia lives with her parents and her little brother Sam, first in New York and then in the suburbs. My favourite, and the one I read over and over, was Anastasia Again!, in which they make the move to the suburbs, and a hostile Anastasia gradually learns to love her new home.

9. Point Horror series (various authors)

Ghosts! Hangings! Dead girls! Woo!
We used to pass these around school in a borderline-illicit fashion. I recall almost nothing about individual books now, other than the tried and tested formula, which was that the killer was always the one who the narrator never suspected - usually the best friend. I do remember laughing at some for being absurd, yet being genuinely terrified of others: namely, Caroline B. Cooney's Twins, which was so frightening to me at the time that I never finished it, and hid the "scary cover" at the back of the wardrobe.

10. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Maybe my favourite book ever as a kid. I thought being a spy was the greatest thing ever. I wished for stealth and a big yellow raincoat. I had to stand for just writing down lots of pointless things in a notebook.

I also noticed that, in recounting these books, I can remember the series' numbers but not the titles themselves. I knew that SVH #11 and SVH #32 were two of my favourites, but I had to google the titles.

I hope you enjoyed that very retro Top Ten Tuesday - leave me your links!


  1. I was obsessed with the Malory Towers series for a while! Actually, I was obsessed with pretty much every series by Enid Blyton. Nice list!


  2. Priya - I must have read Malory Towers so many times! But I agree, anything by Enid Blyton was a must when I was a kid. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Loved BSC and Harriet the Spy! I know what you mean about Twins...the cover and story terrified me in middle school. Great topic!

    Jennifer @ Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews

  4. i loved The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High too! Last year i went back and reread a few and they do not stand the test of time. It made me pull a big ol' "What was i thinking!?!?"
    And i always hated how Ann Martin ALWAYS had to spend at least one chapter going on about how the BSC worked and what all the members looked like, their interests, and how many of them came from divorce. (i think Stoneybrook might be the divorce capital of the world.)
    i really wanted to be Harriet M. Welch too! i had the notebook but unfortunately nothing interesting ever happened in my neighborhood. :)
    Great list, btw. You made me all nostalgic. :)

  5. I love getting all nostalgic about the books I read as a kid/teen. Like you I enjoyed The Babysitters series as well as The Litter Sister Series and SVH too!

  6. I remember reading most of these books :)
    The Babysitters club series was a favorite of mine ^.^
    my ttt; http://booknookgirl.blogspot.com/2012/06/top-ten-tuesday-any-topic.html

  7. This is SUCH a great list! I also loved the BSC and SVH books, and I'd totally forgotten about Sweet Dreams until I saw the cover picture! I loved those ones too =) And what childhood would have been complete without Judy Blume? I actually work with a girl who's 23 and NEVER READ any Judy Blume. Seriously.


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